Sunday, April 22, 2012

Non-Race vs Road 5K

If the Non-Race, otherwise known as Carnage at the Creek and the Habitat for Humanity 5K were on the same weekend, which would you pick?  Easy question isn’t it, of course you would pick Carnage at the Creek, wouldn’t anyone….  Well it’s not that easy.  Now hear me out, before you start thinking that I went nuts, I mean I had to have gone nuts to pick a road 5K over an adventure race, well it’s really an adventure non-race. 

See Carnage at the Creek has no entry fee, and no prizes, well I guess there is sort of a prize, seeing your friends do really stupid things because they lost a bet about the outcome of the non-race, which is a prize in itself.  Oh and there is the pride of winning, not just anyone can win a non-race.  So why in the world would I miss out on this for a 5K. 

So here’s the story, my daughter Jade, who has never been a runner and always hated running, in fact, she was the furthest thing from a runner, she was a cheerleader.  Well about 6 months ago, Jade started running.  She is a student at Illinois State University in Bloomington and she saw a flyer for a 5K, she decided she wanted to run it, so she called me to asked if I would run it with her. Of course I said yes and just two days after entering the race I found out about the date of the non-race.  Oh I wanted to do it, but I also wanted to support Jade in her quest to run a 5K. 

So there you have it, although I was completely jealous of Chuck and his availability to compete in the non-race, I knew my choice was the right one.  Plus Chuck was able to pick up Kate, a good friend and fellow adventure racer as his partner for the non-race. Not only is Kate a top notch adventure racer, but she is also a fellow blogger and a very good one at that, if you haven’t read her blog, you should, check out SuperKate when you get a chance.
So as Chuck and Kate headed for the non-race, I headed to Bloomington.  My daughter China and her boyfriend Alex went with me.  My brother Joel and his family live in Bloomington, so we planned on spending the night at his house.  We had a great time, with my nephew Noah, serenading us with renditions of songs from Bruno Mars, Nickleback and Michael Jackson, he even taught us to Dougie.

We also went to Avanti’s, which serves the best Italian food in Illionis, for some carb loading and some trash talking.  That is where Jade was trashing me and telling me how she was going to kick my butt in the race. Little did she know, I already had a plan to just run along at her pace and then stomp her at the end. So I let her talk trash, because I knew I would win. 
Race morning came, Jade and I headed to the race and we drug Zach, Jade’s boyfriend along to take photos, of me kicking Jade’s butt. It was cold and windy out, so we were sitting in the student center keeping warm waiting for the start of the  race. Oh, and Jade was acting like she was sleeping in the chair trying to trick me into believing that she was too tired to run the race very fast.
We soon were on the starting line ready to go.
We took off at the back of the pack.

Jade didn’t want to start too fast and her only goals, besides beating me, was not to be last or get beat by the lady with the perfectly matched running outfit on.  I knew we wouldn’t be last and usually the women in the expensive, pressed running gear aren’t that fast, so I figured the only upset would be when I smoked her butt at the finish line.
The race was going smoothly, we were running at a pace that was much faster than I thought Jade would run.  Jade was running just one step off my shoulder and she was keeping pace without a problem.  We headed around the last turn with about 200 meters to go, Jade said, when we get to the bridge the race is on, that gave me about 100 meters to smoke her.  We hit the bridge and Jade took off like a lightning bolt, I have no idea where the energy came from and I had no idea she could sprint.

I gave it everything I had, but I don’t own any fast twitch muscles, so it was really a sad sight, especially when she crossed the finish line in front me.

I know RIGHT! she beat me, I had no idea she would be as devious as me and pull the same plan I had on me before I could pull it on her.  It’s ok though, I was so proud of her for doing it and so glad I was there with her, plus Reggie Redbird was proud of both of us.

Next year I hope the timing is better and I can make it to the non-race, but if not, I hope I can at least kick Jade’s butt.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lightning Strikes Adventure Race 2012

I know, right, after reading my post on the High Profile Adventure Camp, you have been anxiously awaiting my post on the Lightning Strikes 8 hour race that was held during adventure camp. So here it comes, I have to start by saying Gerry Voellger puts out a very challenging course, lucky for us Chuck is great at orienteering and he went directly to every CP. For our team, Chuck, Lori and I, the race was more about having fun than going fast, of course we always want to go as fast as we can, but this was a learning event and chance to try new things.

Chuck: It was a very challenging course, but totally do-able. The LIDAR orienteering maps were awesome (the USGS maps were, well, what you expect from USGS) and every checkpoint was plotted dead-on. It was a great test to navigation skills though, and there were no ‘Gimmee’ points. Most of them were well hidden in depressions, caves, boulders and logs. You absolutely had to know where you were on the map at all times. We had to pay attention to map scale too, it messed with my distance judgement once when we got off the 1:24000 bike map and started immediately trekking on the 1:5000 map. It didn’t affect the race, we just ended up at the cave WAY faster than I expected.

After two days of sleep deprivation, we were wakened earlier than we planned by our roommates, so we got up and got moving, driving our bikes to the bike drop and getting back for a quick breakfast before the race started. As we milled around near the starting line, Gerry asked me if I hurt my knee, I think someone told on me and he found out I was icing it the night before. I assured him that it was fine, just a little sore, like I said in the last post, I am an internet doctor. I said it would hold out for a good 10 hours and since the race was only 8 hours, I had no worries. It surprised me that he would have even noticed or cared, but I did appreciate his concern.

At the start line we were given last minute instructions and told to be careful entering the water or we would end up like a team during a previous camp, who had to quickly get dry after capsizing right off the bank. During the paddling presentation the night before we saw a photo of the capsized team, scrambling to get dry and when we saw it Chuck and I both said “Hey that’s……?” (I will not mention the name to protect the innocent here).

Next was the group photo, we were in the back and I’m not sure you can even see us in the photo. After the photo we had a couple minutes to relax before the start and somehow as everyone moved around we ended up in the front of the start, I did not want to be there, but there was no way to move back. The gun went off and it was a mad dash for the canoes, and I mean an all out sprint. My thought was, “do these guys realize this is an 8 hour race”. We had to portage the canoe to the river, it was about a quarter mile. After dropping the canoe on the bank, we headed out for 3 CP’s before returning to the canoe. We had no problems finding the points, but it was some tough terrain.

After some climbing through rocks and walking through the river, we were back to the canoe and being very careful not to capsize. One team had capsized and were walking down the river trying to find their passport that had gotten washed away.
Chuck: We had just learned all these cool new paddling techniques at camp the day before, and barely got to use them. The shallow fast river was more like combat than paddling technique.

As we headed down the river, I couldn’t help myself, it was so beautiful along the bluffs I kept snapping photos instead of paddling.

It was ok though the water was so shallow in places, Chuck had to keep getting out and pushing the canoe. You see, Lori and I kept pulling the GIRL card on him, he had to do all that manly work. We made it to the take out much quicker than we had planned, but we had to use our muscle to lift the canoe over a 4 foot bank, good thing me and Lori were there to help Chuck out, as skinny as he is, lifting that may have just snapped him in half.

Chuck: You know, I don’t think we’ve ever had this ‘girl card’ thing before my friend Robyn B mentioned it at camp. I’m going to have to talk to her about that. Have you seen our picture yet?

It was time for the bike leg, we had heard from other racers that the bike would be really hilly, but we had no idea what we were in for. I’m glad we didn’t know, otherwise I would have worried about it the entire morning. There was no flat to be had, and the hills were giant, we all rode them in the little ring and on one hill all three of us got off and walked the top section of it. On another hill, I was riding like a mad woman and a guy walking, pushing his bike, passed me, I started to wonder if maybe walking wasn’t a better choice.

We made it through a couple of CP’s on the bike and rolled into the O section. There were some great volunteers there waiting for us and they had ice cold coke, I wish they would have had ice cold diet coke, but “you get what you get and don’t throw a fit”. The O section held lots of challenges for us, first the ticks, I think I spent most of the section brushing the ticks off me, then there was the thorns, I’m still nursing those wounds and of course what’s an adventure race without poison ivy, I brought that home with me too. The terrain in the O section was tough, but we went right to every CP. As we left CP 11 we came across a military team, they were running and singing, well I don’t think they call it singing, but that’s what it was, and they ran right past us and the CP. After a while they realize the mistake and had to go back, they weren’t singing after that.
Chuck: I just checked with Major Chizmar. It’s called a Cadence, not a song. And apparently we heard a very tame and fit for public hearing cadence. haha

We were watching the time and we wanted to make sure we made it back to transition in time to hit the CP in the cave and do the ropes, so we skipped CP12 to save some time. (Lori: cave yes, ropes- NO, not so much!) We knew that we were getting tired and we still had a lot of hills to ride. Gravel and hills, you know how much I like both of those things, NOT! The down hills were not as fun as you would have thought though, since some sections of road had lots of loose gravel, we had to be careful coming down the hills, I certainly didn’t want to be picking gravel out of my skin, we wanted to make sure it was wheels gravel side down the entire race.

We rode back to the canoe takeout and attached our paddles and pfd’s to our packs then rode up the next hill, this one looked really bad, but I was surprised we all seemed to get up it fine, maybe it was the coke we had before leaving the O section. We even passed a team at the top of the hill, of course we passed them because they were sitting on the ground taking a break.

Chuck: I bet it was the bottle of Ensure. That stuff is like rocket fuel for adventure racers.

Finally we were back at the transition area and we didn’t have much time, so we took off, skipping the first CP to go directly to the cave. If we would have missed the Bat cave, Chuck would have never forgiven us, he had been waiting all day for the cave.

Chuck: I was really hoping for a bear or mtn lion den. Turns out there was nothing but bats and frogs.

It was really hard to see the cave opening because it was covered with big rocks and green moss, but we found it. To get to it you had to cross the river, it was only about waist deep if you stayed on the rock ledge.

The river felt cold, but after feeling the water we walked through in the cave the river was like a sauna. We saw bats hanging off the top of the cave, and it’s a good thing I had a helmet on because, I hit my head a couple times. I was too busy looking around to watch my head.

It took about 5 minutes to get to the CP, but we made it, our feet were numb from the cold water, but it was worth it.

Coming back out of the cave we jumped into the river and I decided to take a little break while in the river, good thing Chuck and Lori were not downstream from me.

Chuck: Yeah you read it right, she was pee’n.

We climbed through the rocks to a trail and headed to the finish. We did not clean the course, we missed the ropes section, but I think Lori was ok with that (Lori: made my day, this HUGE weight had just been lifted off my shoulders! A fear of DNF as the final moments on the clock counted down because I was stuck on the side of the cliff… it will not let it get me next year!!), me and Chuck were a little disappointed though.

At the finish we were met by cheers and Gerry the race director. And the first thing he said was how’s your knee, what a great guy to even remember that my knee was not quite working right.
We had a picture snapped, well maybe a few, Lori and I wanted to make sure we got one that we looked thin in to use in our post. (Lori: we eventually had to give up because I was too tired and sore to suck it in!)

After a photo or ten we went into the lodge for some food and ran into a guy who had finished and he asked if we were ROCK Racing, we said, “Yep, in the flesh”. He is a new racer and said he reads our blog all the time and that it has really helped him out. He said “I know it’s kind of creepy”, heck it’s not creepy, we love people reading our blog! So be on the lookout for team 2 Much Trouble if they get really fast we will claim it’s because of us. Hey, take it where you can get it.
Awesome race Gerry! And to all the great volunteers and Robyn, a great big THANK YOU too, without you, we have no adventure. Oh and of course Chuck can now say his personal friend Robyn, not just she is my friend on FaceBook.

Chuck: have you seen our picture yet?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

tracks n treads 2012

Most people have a party for their birthday, but if you know me, you know that I don’t do what most people do. For my birthday, I threw the tracks n treads Off-Road biathlon and trail run. The race was held at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. This year, there was also a new and improved race course, more on that later.

It all started back in December when I started planning for the 3rd annual race, this could have been the very last race because when the Metro Tri Club started this race, it was decided that if the race didn’t turn a profit in 3 years, we would discontinue it. Well, I don’t have all the numbers in yet, but I’m sure we turned a profit. That being said, you can start getting ready for next year’s race. I can’t guarantee that it will fall on my birthday again, but I can plan to make it a party atmosphere similar to this years, with food, friends and on fantastic race.

While planning this year’s race, Keith T. who is the clubs trail rat, asked if we could change up the course and have the run in the Big Woods and the bike on the GORC trails. This change would get us off the cross country course and into the woods for the run and although I really liked his idea, I had my doubts that it would happen. The reason was, to make a change like this we would have to spread out across campus, the race would have to cross roads and secure a larger area of the campus. I was pretty sure we would never get it past the University, but I was willing to give it a shot. I spoke with Tim E. my contact at the university and he said he would check on the availability of the area. Our original idea was to hold from the visitor parking lot, but after some checking Tim said we couldn’t do it from there, but we could use the Engineering lot. After checking it out, that area was an even better place to hold it.

Things went pretty smoothly after that, I got the race listed on active, fleet feet, STL Biking and many other sites. Jeff S. designed all the posters and entry forms, and I had them printed and started distributing them. We knew we needed to advertise if we wanted to draw racers, plus we really wanted to get the word out that the run venue was now rugged single track, hoping to draw more trial runners. All in all, things came together pretty well, but the last few weeks were hectic. Mike Wever the president of the Metro Tri Club retired from his real in December and he was a great help with completing tasks that had to be done in the middle of the day, while I was working, but he also had way too much time to think and sometimes my head was spinning with all his new ideas. I have to say, one of his new ideas with some help from Chris N. was to build a portable finish line and oh my gosh, it turned out really great, they did a fantastic job on it.

On Thursday, Mike and I met with some volunteers out at the race site and set up the transition area. Keith and Russ, covered the run course and put up stakes for signs. On Friday I spoke with Scott W from GORC and we agreed that the GORC trials were in excellent condition and we could use them for the race. This is where I have to give a big THANKS to Scott and GORC for helping out, they not only made sure the trails were clear, but they showed up on race day to help out on the bike course. I can’t express how lucky we are to have this group around building and maintaining these trails for our use. Friday afternoon, Keith and some volunteers marked the run course, then Keith went with Mark S and I out to mark the bike course. When we finished marking the course, I just knew that it was done so well, that there would not be an incident of anyone being directionally challenged this year. This is where I start laughing hysterically as I write this, because it seems no matter what we do, every year something goes wrong.

So race day came, I actually forgot it was my birthday until I got to the race and someone said happy birthday to me. I thought to myself, what a great day to have a birthday race, the day was beautiful, the weather was dry and warm, and the trails were in fantastic condition. Ok, so like I said nothing ever goes perfect, just before race day we found out that due to construction we would have to move parking to a different lot, but I thought no problem, it was just the next lot over. We sent out an email update to all the racers telling them to park in lot F instead of Lot E and we also put up signs directing them to Lot F. Well we had some racers park in the wrong lot, but we made an announcement to please move to the other lot or risk a parking ticket, most people didn’t complain, but then there is always one in the crowd. I thought ok, so someone is complaining, don’t let this little issue ruin a great day, if this person gets a ticket it’s their own fault.

Soon it was time for pre-race comments, so Mike made an announcement that I would give instructions, but first, it was my birthday and the crowd sang Happy Birthday to me while my daughter China and her friend Madison picked me up. Well that really made my day, thanks everyone that was really great. I went over the course, and of course mentioned that there was really no way anyone could get lost because we had marked both the bike and run course so well. I heard a few laughs in the crowd, but I really believed what I had just said.

Everyone lined up to start and the race was off. I was expecting to see the first racer come in between 26 and 28 minutes, but to my surprise there were about 7 guys crossing the line into transition in about 24 minutes. I was starting to worry, when Chris one of the club members runs in and yells that some had pulled down the caution tape at the turn and the entire race went off course. My head just dropped, I thought how could this happen, who would do something like this and why. I started asking the runners that came through where they turned and what distance they had on their Garmins. I quickly found out that at least most everyone ran the same course, it was just a shortened course, most of the racers missed on small loop, which made the course 3.3 miles rather than 3.8 miles. There were a few people who ran the long course, but at least they were club members and were very forgiving because it really was something that was beyond my control even though as the race director, I take full responsibility for the mistake. I do however think everyone enjoyed the run course.

See all the run photos here

As I tried to sort out what went wrong, the race continued, runners were finishing as cyclist were racing out of transition to the bike course. The first place trail runner, Garrett Fulkerson, finished in 24:16 which is amazing since he is only 13. Becky Sikorski won the women’s race in 26:48.

With my head spinning about the run course problem, I forgot to call the bike sweeper and tell him the last cyclist had left transition, good thing for me, Mark, my sweeper knows me and figured I completely lost my mind, so he started sweeping after not seeing a cyclist in a while. Good thing too or all those bike course volunteers would still be out there today manning their posts.

The biathlon winner, Anthony Dust, who happens to be the 2011 winner also, came through the finish line like a bolt of lightning finishing in 1:01:40. Here is the real kicker, Anthony came off the run in 7th place, probably 3 minutes back and he won the race by almost 2 minutes, my gosh, he is one fast cyclist, I wish I had his speed. The Women’s winner was no slouch, Erin Fuselier finished first logging a 1:19:10.

See all the bike photos here

Just after the finish of each race, we held the awards ceremony and gave away some great glasses with the tracks n treads logo on one side and the place engraved on the other. Once again this year, a group of club members met at Chuck’s house after a training run and engraved the glasses for this event. Thanks, Chuck, Lori, Patrick and Kate for taking time out to do the engraving.

For all the first place finishers there was an even greater prize, they received a pair of Swiftwick socks. The Swiftwick Company was very generous to sponsor the race this year and give us socks for all age group winners. If you haven’t tried Swiftwick socks you should. I got a pair at a race last year and haven’t purchased any other brand since. I could go into all the reasons why, but all you have to do is wear a pair and you will be a convert. You can also read ROCK Racing’s review of the socks here. I encourage you to give them a try and you can purchase them locally at The Cyclery and Fitness center in Edwardsville.

I can truly say I learned many lessons once again this year, but as a whole it was great event and I think everyone had fun. The new course was fantastic and I need to Thank SIUE and Tim E. for making it possible hold this race on the SIUE campus. Thank you God for the great weather, to the Cyclery for your bike support, to Culligan Water for supplying the water, to Metro Milers for the race timing and the biggest Thanks goes to all the volunteers, without you, we have no race.


To the racers, I hope you had fun and I will see you again next year.

Click here for Biathlon results

Click her for Trail Run results

Robin Rongey - Race Director